Christmas... is it the most wonderful time of the year?

For some, Christmas is a happy time filled with parties, family, friends, fun, and laughter.


For some, however, it can be a dreaded, anxious, and stressful time.

Financial worries, for many of us, are exasperated at Christmas. Making ends meet throughout the year is a constant juggling act which can be stressful enough! Then, you have to contend with the Christmas period... whether it's parents who desperately want to give their children all the things on Santa’s wish list or a partner wanting to surprise a loved one, financial constraints evoke more anxiety and stress at Christmas time.

We can’t escape the 'frivolities' of Christmas, whether it’s subtly drip-fed into our cognitions via social media, TV, friends or family, or emblazoned everywhere. Christmas must be the most wonderful time of the year... right?

We have all, at one time or another, thought that we were mind readers. We presume all our friends are super happy and excited, and we see shops full of Christmas people appearing to 'look' happy, therefore, everyone must think Christmas is wonderful except me, right? Wrong!

We cannot read minds, and we can’t predict what other people are thinking. We have become very adept at putting on a brave face for the outside world, especially through social media.

Just because a person appears to 'be' happy doesn’t mean they feel it; they may well feel like curling up and hiding until January!

Negative feelings and constant worry will have a huge impact on mental health; provoking feelings of inadequacy and thoughts such as 'I’m not good enough', 'I should earn more money', or 'I'm not a good parent'. These negative thoughts niggle away at our self-esteem and constantly chip away our self-worth.

In contrast to the media-driven 'happy families laughing together at Christmas gatherings', there are still many people who are not looking forward to the festive season;

  • the person whose marriage has broken down
  • the person who's just been made redundant
  • the person who is now elderly with little or no family
  • the person who's lost their home
  • the young person in care without a family
  • the person being verbally, physically, or mentally abused
  • the person who's grieving a loved one

Whatever your reason, you are not alone - not everyone is having a wonderful time.

For these people, Christmas can create much deeper levels of anxiety and depression. At Christmas, a time of togetherness, new resolutions, and hope, for some feels even more hopeless. For them, their stark and bleak future is a terrifying prospect, made all the worse at this time of year.

Please do not think you are alone - help is available. Some groups and charities can help and provide support, especially at this sensitive time of year. It’s worth reminding ourselves that Christmas itself is a very short period. There is a lot of emphasis on what is very little time. I enjoy walking, and find that it certainly helps me to clear my head while relieving tension and anxiety. For all of us, self-care is really important; we all need to stop sometimes and press rewind. For those who need more than some self-care, maybe counselling can help?

Counselling helps you overcome whatever reason is behind these feelings of dread at this time of year, and it provides a clear vision of what a more positive future may look like for you. Anything can be overcome in time. Counselling ensures that you will experience a kind, non-judgmental environment where together we will explore whatever the therapeutic journey brings up for you. Through a combination of different theories and techniques, you will learn new coping strategies while working through any persistent, unhelpful thinking patterns. You will develop a deeper level of self-awareness and gain tips and tools to help you move past what obstacles are in your way, so that hopefully when Christmas comes around again, you will be in a much better place of positive mental well-being.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Runcorn, Cheshire, WA7
Written by Julie Howard, MBACP (Accred), BSc (Hons), FdSc, Life’s Journey Counselling
Runcorn, Cheshire, WA7

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